Growing Chestnuts from Grocery Store

scarletdaisies(6)December 7, 2009

Chestnuts are $4.00 american dollars per pound! Whoa! So I am going to steal one of about 20 nuts in the small plastic container they came in to plant, maybe two if they won't notice. Hard to not notice one missing with as few as what came, but will they grow?

I know cocoa trees are fermented and baked, but chestnuts are bought raw and then baked? Baking instructions are included, so they must be raw.

Cold stratification in the refrigerator will make sure the mice or groundhogs won't eat it, maybe even bunnies too. There was one crawling in the back yard, a big one, but it didn't touch the mustard, collards, and turnip greens that insist on sprouting even in 25 degree weather at night. It must have been the tree leaves that I dumped over them to kill them off for the year that keeps them warm. But anyways, isn't it better to cold stratify them in the refrigerator and then plant in the ground?

Would love to know! Do I have to worry about male and female trees? I wonder if you can dowse the sex of a seed like you can a pregnant woman, with a ring on the end of a string?

Thanks ahead of time!

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

OK, your post went from theft to dowsing with a ring on the end of a string. Are you for real? or maybe drunk?
Haven't you heard that stolen seeds don't germinate and rings belong on fingers or in bull's noses?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 4:44PM
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scarletdaisies(6)

They're my seeds, but designated for roasting. I'm snatching 2 of my own seeds. You need to lighten up and crawl out of your encyclopedia.

My post was humorous, but you can not answer if it bothers you.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 4:59PM
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idaho_gardener

From what I've learned, you plant chestnuts directly into the ground about now. The taproot will start growing over the winter. You'll need two trees to get cross-pollination.

What kind of chestnuts did you buy?

I planted some pure American chestnuts this year. I am far from where the chestnut blight lives, so I should be ok. I'm hoping that I can find some blight resistant American chestnuts for planting in the future.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 5:09PM
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pineresin

Very unlikely to grow, they'll probably be too dry. But no harm in giving it a try. Soak overnight before planting, and then sow right away in a deep pot indoors. If viable, the root will start growing within a few days, and the shoot follow on in a week or two. Extra light through the dark part of winter will help.

One I grew like this (from a freshly collected nut under a tree, though) reached a metre tall in its first year with two extra flushes of growth through the spring and summer. The taproot will be similar or even larger, so you'll need a big pot!

Resin

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 5:15PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"You need to lighten up and crawl out of your encyclopedia...My post was humorous"

Almost as humorous as my encyclopedia, but not quite. LOL

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 7:52PM
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cacau(z5/6 CO)

It's not farfetched at all. I have a friend who about 40 years ago bought a bag of chestnuts at a grocery store and saw that a radicle was emerging from one so he planted it on the parking strip in front of his house. He was quite certain it was Castanea sativa, not C. mollissima, because the package was labeled as European in origin. The tree grew well for about 20 years but then died back to the ground. He thought a lawn service had damaged the trunk, but he couldn't rule out blight. The next season it resprouted four trunks and has grown to its present size about 20 ft. tall, and it's tied for being the largest of its species in Colorado. No chestnuts are native here, of course, and they've rarely been planted. The specific one I'm referring to above produces burs but has never produced filled nuts though at least one other isolated chestnut tree I know has done so; normally they're self-infertile.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 9:56PM
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pineresin

"The tree grew well for about 20 years but then died back to the ground. .... its present size about 20 ft. tall, and it's tied for being the largest of its species in Colorado"

Quite possibly cold damage - was it a hard winter that it died back in? It is usually only considered zone 7 hardy, marginal in zone 6.

Resin

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 3:48AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i though the same as brandon .... lol

anyway .... i suppose it depends on how 'fresh' the nuts are ....

e.g. apples and potatoes can be upwards of a year old.. until the 'new crop' comes in ... i suppose there are ways to hold all stock for extended periods of time...

but all that said... what do you have to lose .... give it a go .... i would tend to moisten them up like resin suggests.. and then pot them.. and throw the pot outdoors out of the sun.. and let ma nature do her magic .... i would hesitate to make this an indoor project ... but that is me .... or steal two.. one outside.. one inside ....

one other thing .... do you know what the latin name is .... are you sure it is zone appropriate???? .. i doubt the sales packing for edible nuts has the type/species .... so i dont know how we can ID it.. to find out what you are trying to grow.... i suppose some of the tree nuts here [get it???] might be able to ID the nut itself .. hate for you to go thru all this, only to find out the tree cant cope with your zone

anyway.. good luck

ken

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 10:04AM
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denninmi(8a)

I remember reading somewhere that imported chestnuts from Europe or Asia are heat treated to kill various weevils for APHIS import reasons, and this will also render them incapable of growing. Now, whether this is true or just internet unreliable information, I can't say.

I will tell you that, out of two pounds of chestnuts I bought at the local market for planting a few years back, I had a Zero percent success rate. Neither the Korean nor Italian ones germinated.

Of course, the squirrels did enjoy the chestnut snack in the middle of winter once they found the seedbed! :( They could have left me ONE, but didn't.

So, yes, if you try it, I suggest the baggie of peat in the fridge method!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 4:20PM
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alabamatreehugger(8)

I bought a batch of 'Dunstan' chestnuts last year on ebay, I saved some for planting and grew 20 seedlings (some in ground and some in containers). Every one I planted sprouted. I've already given some of them away as gifts.

The ones at the grocery store are most likely C.sativa since they're mostly imported from Italy. I'd look for some with Chinese parentage if I were you.

This is back around June, they ended up growing to about 15 inches tall this year.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 7:04PM
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idaho_gardener

Dunstan is a Castanea dentata x C. mollissima cross. They're pretty proud of that particular hybrid. Apparently it's a good nut producer, but it is a patented breed.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 9:07PM
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scarletdaisies(6)

They are Italian Chestnusts Garden sweet Brand. by Procacci Brothers Sales Corp. Philadelphia, PA.

That is what I thought about them that maybe they were treated specially and won't grow. The worst part about it is they baked up rock hard, 4 dollars down the drain, but due to bad chestnuts, not bad cooking instructions. I was going back next week to buy some, but I think I'll take my 4 dollars to ebay then.

Our weather wants to be winter half the time, then in the 40s and 50s the other, but February is our worst month and it may freeze over and die being so young if I put it out.

If I start it out in a pot outdoors, a 5 gallon bucket in potting soil, it might do well even in a zone 7 weather, maybe?

Thanks for all the great advice. I appreciate it!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 9:29PM
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cacau(z5/6 CO)

Hi Resin, I thought C. sativa was a little hardier since Dirr has it listed as Zones 5 to 7. However, if it's marginally hardy here, your point could be very well taken because we had some exceptionally cold weather in 1982, 1983 and 1991. My friend who planted the tree is in his late 90s now so his memory about the date of the dieback isn't the best.

I've never heard of chestnut blight occurring here; as I said, all the species are rare here. It would be interesting to hear some stories about the occurrence of chestnut blight far from the native range of either C. dentata or C. sativa. The only thing I've read was some speculation by A. L. Jacobsen about blight in Seattle, and a post by maackia (I think it was) on this forum about possible blight in an old cultivated grove in Wisconsin near the Mississippi.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 9:41PM
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pineresin

"The worst part about it is they baked up rock hard, 4 dollars down the drain, but due to bad chestnuts"

That suggests they were already far too dry to have had any chance of growing.

"I thought C. sativa was a little hardier since Dirr has it listed as Zones 5 to 7"

I've read of trees being cut back in severe winters even in zone 7.

"It would be interesting to hear some stories about the occurrence of chestnut blight far from the native range of either C. dentata or C. sativa"

Chestnut blight has proven abilities of long-distance dispersal; spores stuck to the feet of migrating birds were implicated in its rapid spread when it first arrived in N America. But true it is unlikely to reach very isolated chestnuts. Sweet Chestnut is susceptible, but much less so than American Chestnut; in southern Europe, scattered trees die, but the species is still common overall. Also notable is that the blight hasn't reached northern Europe despite being within easy colonisation range of southern European infections, suggesting the disease can't cope with the N European climate.

Resin

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 5:06AM
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idaho_gardener

I thought that European chestnuts (C. sativa) had a hypovirulent blight that helps them build immune defenses against more severe forms of blight. Also, I thought I heard that because they have a form of blight, they have some genetic defenses.

Blight can be harbored on oak trees, too.

The native range of C. dentata extended from Georgia to Maine and into Canada. The American Chestnut Foundation is working to incorporate native C. dentata trees in the northern states into the blight resistant strains they have been breeding. The thinking being that the northern trees have evolved to adapt to the cold weather. There are programs in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut to find and cross-pollinate any existing local trees with the hybrids.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 10:54AM
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jocelynpei

I have grown chestnuts from the store here in eastern Canada, but the Italian ones die after only a few years. The cold takes them. The sativa ones might make 3 or 4 years, but sudden cold after a warm spell gets them too. C dentata is the best for here, iron clad hardy, almost bombproof. Mollissima hybrids may die back at the tips in a cold year, but do well most of the time. There is a big difference in seedlots as far as survival and growth rate. American chestnuts (dentatas) are smaller, but very sweet, good tasting.

Jocelyn

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 7:00PM
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cacau(z5/6 CO)

Hi Resin,

Does the chestnut blight stop at obvious natural barriers such as the Pyrenees, or does it tail off more gradually as one moves northward, parallel to a temperature isoline?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 10:14PM
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pineresin

It has been present in both SW Germany and northern Switzerland for nearly 20 years (European Journal of Forest Pathology 21: 250-252, 1991; 24: 241-244, 1994), so the Pyrenees and Alps haven't stopped it. Not sure how far north it goes in France, though the info is likely available somewhere. And no doubt with global warming it'll reach Britain eventually.

Resin

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 5:08AM
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pineresin

Absent from northern France: "With the exception of the UK and northern France, almost all the European chestnut growing areas have been infected by the blight caused by C. parasitica": For. Snow Landsc. Res. 76, 3: 361Â367 (2001).

Resin

Here is a link that might be useful: (pdf file)

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 5:20AM
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cacau(z5/6 CO)

Resin, thanks for that article, a good overview of the blight and hypovirulence situation in Europe. The dates on blight appearance were interesting, e.g., Portugal being so much later than Spain. Faulty reporting perhaps. I don't know if climate is keeping it out of the UK, though, if it finds Switzerland, Germany and Hungary hospitable. --S.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 2:37AM
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pineresin

Hi Cacau - I'd suspect the Portugal case is lack of monitoring. Switzerland, Germany and Hungary all have much more continental climates than here; they get colder in winter, but are also much warmer in summer.

Sweet Chestnut is unique in Castanea in being able to grow well even with cool summers, with good specimens up to 28m tall even in the far north of Scotland; all the other species show poor growth even in the warmest parts of southeastern England. I'd guess the fungus, having evolved with Asian species, has never been in a position to adapt to cool summer climates.

Resin

    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 6:37AM
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cacau(z5/6 CO)

Resin, do you know of an online resource that has maps of native ranges of European tree species, specifically C. sativa?

If the cool summer climate somehow keeps the blight from completing its life cycle, that could say something about the presence of many healthy-looking chestnut trees in Seattle, whatever their species (Jacobsen considers them mostly American/European hybrids, not mixed with Asian genes).

What is the status of C. dentata in the UK? Too chilly in the summer for it to grow well?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 9:22PM
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